business news in context, analysis with attitude

By a 17-1 vote, employees at a Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express department in Loveland, Colorado, voted against union representation on Friday.

However, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) reportedly will try and have the vote tossed out, saying that the company added new employees to the department to dilute any possible pro-union vote.

Wal-Mart had objected to the vote, arguing unsuccessfully that the tire and lube shop was just a department of the total store, and therefore should not vote independently.

Meanwhile, the CBC reports that the Quebec Labor Relations Board has found Wal-Mart guilty of trying to stop workers from forming a union at a store in Ste-Foy.

It is the second time that Wal-Mart has been reprimanded for trying to intimidate workers considering the formation of a union. The company reportedly would call employees one by one into an office where two managers would quiz them about their union intentions.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) released a statement saying that union said the decision showed Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, cannot violate workers' fundamental rights without paying the consequences.

Wal-Mart already has said it will close the Jonquiere, Quebec, store that was the first Wal-Mart outlet in North America where employees won union certification.

In other Wal-Mart news…

  • The New Jersey State Legislature reportedly is considering a bill that would require that, whenever a company wants to build a store larger than 130,000 square feet, an assessment would have to be done of how the store would impact local wages, benefits and overall employment. The bill is being pushed by an anti-Wal-Mart activist group.

  • Wal-Mart reportedly will open its first Shanghai supercenters in china this summer, and will open another two next year.

  • And, the New York Times reports that Wal-Mart has become a money machine that almost defies definition.

    Wal-Mart “recently reported that for the latest fiscal year, it had profits - not sales, but profits - of $10.3 billion,” the NYT writes. “But, of course, that's one of those disembodied corporate numbers that mere mortals with $307.63 in their checking accounts can have trouble getting their minds around.

    “So look at it this way, and imagine a triumphant chorus of ringing cash registers as accompaniment: Every minute, around the clock, this colossus of commerce earns an average of nearly $20,000.”

KC's View:
All that money, and management can’t seem to buy peace.

This is going to keep going, with neither party, in our view, being on the side of the angels. Whether in New Jersey or Quebec, New York or California, Wal-Mart is going to keep trying to expand and do things its way, and there will be people at virtually every turn who will object. To them, Wal-Mart is the great Satan; to Wal-Mart, the opposition is to be run roughshod over.

”If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” - Moshe Dayan